ジュニパーベリー

 「カクテルの王様」と呼ばれるカクテルがある。それはマティーニである。マティーニはジンとベルモットという2種類の酒を混ぜるだけの非常にシンプルなカクテルだが、世界中で多くの酒飲み達を魅了し続けており、このカクテルにまつわるエピソードには事欠かない。そしてレシピがシンプルな分、誤魔化しが効かず、出来上がりにはバーテンダーの腕前が如実に現れるカクテルと言われている。ちなみにジンとは「ジュニパーベリー」という針葉樹の木の実で香りづけした蒸留酒、ベルモットは白ワインの一種である。私も昔からマティーニが大好きで、どこのバーでも一杯目にマティーニを頼むのが習慣になっている。何故マティーニがこんなに好きなのか、自分でも不思議に思っていたのだが、先日ふとその理由の一端に気付く出来事があった。

 都庁のふもと、新宿郵便局の脇の辺りに、リキュールを専門に扱う小さなバーがある。ある日、その店でマスターに勧められ、ジンではなくジュニパーベリーそのもののリキュールを飲んでみる機会があった。黒い小さなボトルからテイスティンググラスにその液体が注がれると、何よりもむせ返るような強烈な香りが鼻をつく。そしてその香りが鼻孔を貫いた瞬間に思い出したのだが、それは学生時代に慣れ親しんだ図書館の書庫の香りだったのだ。

 おそらく昔の書庫では防虫のために松の精油から作られる樟脳を使っていたのではないか。一方、ジュニパーベリーは別名「西洋杜松」とも呼ぶらしく、素人考えだが同じ「松」の字に象徴されるように樟脳と似た成分を持っているのではないだろうか。そして学生時代に少なからぬ時間を過ごした書庫への郷愁が香りを通じてマティーニへの愛着につながっていたのではないかと思われた。

 初めて行くバーというのはこの年になっても緊張するものであるが、懐かしい書庫の香りのするマティーニを飲む事で、あるいは無意識に緊張を和らげようとしていたのかも知れない。しかし逆に、初めての客が最初の一杯でマティーニを頼むとバーテンダーは緊張するものらしい。腕を試されていると思うからである。

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